THE BBC has been accused of “false balance” reporting in an article on North Sea oil and gas.

Professor Rebecca Willis, of Lancaster University, criticised the broadcaster for stating that “environmental groups” have said any new oil and gas fields would take the UK over its carbon budget limits.

However, Willis pointed out that it wasn’t just climate change activists, but the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC), as well as numerous scientists and experts.

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The BBC piece claimed that the UK is at risk of being “starved” of North sea energy and leaving it reliant on imports, a claim made by a major oil and gas producer.

Gilad Myerson (pictured below), executive chairman at Ithaca Energy, claimed Keir Starmer’s plan to ban licenses for any new North Sea development if Labour wins the next General Election would threaten the UK’s energy security.

Ithaca tripled its pre-tax profits in 2022, from $763 million in 2021 to $2.24 billion last year.

It comes as the UK Government is set to sign off a number of oil and gas licences in the North Sea, potentially over 100, including the controversial Rosebank development.

The National:

We previously told how a Scottish Government minister said that stopping all future activity in the North Sea would be "wrong" after Starmer publicly announced Labour's energy plans. 

The BBC article, published on Tuesday June 27, read: “Environmental groups say any new oil and gas fields in the region would take the UK over its carbon budget limits.”

After being contacted by The National, the BBC updated the line to read: "Environmental groups and scientists ... "

Carbon budgets restrict the total amount of greenhouse gasses the UK can emit over a 5-year period.

However, Willis took to Twitter to accuse the BBC of misleading reporting.

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She said: “This is terrible 'false balance' reporting from the BBC.

“It is not just 'environmental groups' who say more oil & gas fields would take us over carbon targets.

“It's @IPCC_CH, @IEA, @theCCCuk & the well-established scientific consensus.”

Willis shared a screenshot of a paper she had written on the Cumbria coal mine, and the issue of false balance - defined as presenting two sides of a debate as “more equal than is justified by the evidence”.

Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change, added: “This deliberate bias by @BBCNews is long-standing and widespread across its national outlets.

“Local radio often does a so much better job of independence & informing its listeners than the Beeb's hi-profile national programmes presided over by its obscenely-paid presenters/stars.”

Ryan Jude, Labour councillor for Lancaster Gate, wrote: “The push to stop oil & gas licences is based on the science. Most industry bosses know this. Labour’s policy gives them a clear investment signal & time to plan.

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“Media needs to report this accurately. This framing enables bad faith actors to validate their narrative. Frustrating.”

John Marsham, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Leeds said: “We need better @BBCNews.

“‘Environmental groups’ sounds like just campaigners. It's what the science demands for us to meet the UN's Paris Agreement, with disastrous consequences if we fail.

“‘False balance’ has moved on from deniers vs scientists to fossil fuel lobby vs reality.”

The BBC declined to comment, but updated the article in question to include the phrase "scientists".